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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hezbollah Declares War on Zionism, Congress Takes Vacation

It begins with a killing. A man is killed, a prominent figure, a key figure in an organization with far reaching power and influence, capable of reaching out globally and lashing out in anger against those it believes responsible for the death of the man.

But what are the ramifications if the man killed is himself a killer, someone who is responsible personally for the deaths of hundreds of others during the course of his lifetime, and is considered an enemy of several nations across the face of the earth? What are the ramifications if the man killed has been linked to scores of terrorist activities around the world in the past and is still involved in planning operations and activities of this nature currently? What is the logical next thing to happen when a man who is wanted for capital charges in several countries is killed before he can be captured and brought to trial before his execution?

The situation at hand could almost read like an old west novel. A notorious killer is gunned down in the streets of a town, and his brothers come to town to take their revenge. I'm actually reminded of Gary Cooper in High Noon as I write this.

To the heart of the matter: Imad Mughniyeh, a.k.a. Hajj Radwan, was killed in a bombing in Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday. Mughniyeh has been linked to numerous terrorist attacks spanning across the 1980's and 1990's, and was a senior Hezbollah commander. A bomb inside his Mitsubishi Pajero exploded, killing Mughniyeh, the only occupant.

Hezbollah, naturally, has decried the killing, while at the same time declaring Mughniyeh a martyr. Personally, I'm a bit confused at this point. Aren't martyr's celebrated and expected to be received with open arms into heaven and rewarded with virgins? Shouldn't that be a cause for celebration? Instead, Hezbollah has decided to declare war on Zionism. Wouldn't that imply that they had ended their war on Zionism at some point for them to be declaring again now?

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent a bulletin Friday to state and local law enforcement authorities advising them to watch for potential retaliatory strikes by Hezbollah, one day after the Lebanese militia group vowed to avenge the death of a top commander by attacking Israeli and Jewish targets around the world.

"While retaliation in the U.S. homeland is unlikely, Hezbollah has demonstrated a capability to respond outside the Middle East to similar events in the past," said the intelligence bulletin sent to about 18,000 state and local law enforcement officials late Friday afternoon.

This is, of course, right on the heels of Congress failing to extend the FISA amendments that would allow the gathering of intelligence against suspected terrorists using wire tapping on international calls. Never mind the fact that this same sort of thing is already done and has been done for some time when investigating individuals suspected of being involved in organized crime.

Instead, they've been investigating the alleged use of steroids and human growth hormones, or "juicing," by Major League Baseball players. This is a responsibility of Congress? Major League Baseball? To add to their winning track record for this Congressional session, they've gone home for a ten day break on the heels of the warnings of impending attacks by terrorists.

And it isn't that Congress didn't have ample time to work on the FISA amendments. As President Bush pointed out today in his radio address, they've had six months to do something about the legislation.

Good morning. At the stroke of midnight tonight, a vital intelligence law that is helping protect our nation will expire. Congress had the power to prevent this from happening, but chose not to.

The Senate passed a good bill that would have given our intelligence professionals the tools they need to keep us safe. But leaders in the House of Representatives blocked a House vote on the Senate bill, and then left on a 10-day recess.

Some congressional leaders claim that this will not affect our security. They are wrong. Because Congress failed to act, it will be harder for our government to keep you safe from terrorist attack. At midnight, the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will be stripped of their power to authorize new surveillance against terrorist threats abroad. This means that as terrorists change their tactics to avoid our surveillance, we may not have the tools we need to continue tracking them -- and we may lose a vital lead that could prevent an attack on America.

The White House also released a "myths and facts" page concerning FISA that can be found here.

And yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accuses Bush of "fear mongering," evoking the speech of FDR in which he said "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Little news flash for you, Nancy, in FDR's day, terrorists didn't fly planes into buildings in attacks against the civilian populace. Japan had kamikaze warriors, true, but they were soldiers fighting soldiers and sailors, not civilians waging war on civilians. In FDR's day we weren't seeing radicals walking into a crowded area wearing a vest laden with explosives and blowing themselves and others up..

Ten days to recognize and commemorate Presidents day. Does anyone else get a ten day vacation for Presidents Day?